17 February 2009

Our Wedding Day.....Five Years On...





21st February 2004


It only seems like yesterday we were exchanging vows in front of 50 family and friends who had packed into the lounge of our friend's beach house whilst 140 km/hr gales blew ferociously outside, lifting roofs and shattering windows in the vicinity.

It was meant to be a summer beach wedding on the lawn of the beach house, with our photos down on the beach before retiring to a marquee on the lawn to partake in celebrations and cuisine. The weather, however, had other plans!

Who can forget the storms of February 2004? Not many! The weekend before the wedding Mark and I flew to Christchurch to meet James (Mark's brother), Jon, Mark, and Ross (his best mates), and Mary-Ann (Mark's fiance and my bridesmaid). We enjoyed catching up with them, but in Christchurch the weather was already threatening, with our trip up the cable car nearly leaving us stranded at the top as the winds picked up significantly throughout the afternoon. I had a late night flight home to Wellington booked for Sunday night, as I had a university exam to sit on the Monday morning (nothing like a busy lead up to the wedding!). I was lucky to get out of Christchurch as flights were already being delayed and cancelled, and it was a rather hairy landing back into Wellington. I made it to the exam, but plenty of other students didn't as the flooding on the Hutt motorway prevented many from being able to make the journey in that morning.

The next few days saw all our family and friends gradually arrive in Wellington, but again the weather turned very nasty on the Thursday and our bridal party nearly didn't make it up from Queenstown. They all described the journey from Queenstown to Christchurch as incredibly frightening with people screaming as the plane was buffeted about by the bad weather. The roof on our 100-year old house decided that enough was enough and it proceeded to develop several leaks that night. As a result we had to invest in a completely new roof just a few weeks later, making do with ice cream containers to catch the drips in the meantime.

Friday morning dawned bright and clear, but the remnants of the bad weather continued to impact on our preparations. A large slip had come down in Paekakariki overnight, blocking most of State Highway 1 - the only road up to the beach house on the Coast. What was usually a 45-minute journey became an arduous 3-hour effort. This meant the marquee was rather delayed in arriving. Thankfully, my gorgeous bridesmaids Shannon and Mary-Ann had the foresight to book the fairly stressed-out bride a half-day spa experience for us all, so there was nothing for me to do but to forget about all the dramas of the week and relax for a few short hours. It is a good thing I wasn't on site at the beach house as more drama unfolded with one of the marquee tent pegs hitting the water main and causing great angst that we might not get it fixed in time to have running water on the day. Mum & Dad (UK) jumped to the rescue organising an emergency plumber, and only told me the story once it was all under control again.






The forecast for Saturday was for 'gales like you've never seen it', but you wouldn't have known it when I woke up in Wellington at 7am in anticipation of the hair/makeup girl to arrive, it was just another blue sky day. However, by the time we got on the road to the Coast at midday, the weather had closed in with low cloud and a decidedly wicked wind.

I'll never know how we had the presence of mind to make the incredibly wise decision on the Wednesday to move our wedding night accommodation to stay at Greenmantle (a luxury estate just a few kilometres away from the beach house). With a beautiful lodge nestled amongst a gorgeous private garden, it was the perfect, secluded and more importantly (sheltered) site for our photos and our wedding night. We stayed the night in the Cottage Suite and it was also a gorgeous room to get ready for the wedding in.








The ceremony itself passed beautifully and uneventfully, although when you listen to the DVD we had made of the day, you can hear the marquee hire people banging tent pegs into the ground after the marquee ripped and nearly blew away several times during the day. The last calamity of the day was when the lighting caught fire in the marquee as a result of the tremendous wind blowing everything around. For a while there it looked like we'd be eating dinner in the dark so my brothers went out on an emergency mission for some tea light candles but mercifully the marquee people arrived back just in time to put up some emergency lighting before it got completely dark. They certainly earnt their money's worth that day.

Five years on, it hardly seems possible that we had such a crazy, but oh so memorable wedding day. Even today our guests, who travelled from far and wide (NZ, England and South Africa) to be with us, still talk about the wild, wild weather. The fact that we managed to overcome the many obstacles thrown in our path in the lead up to the wedding and on the day itself made it all the more remarkable that we were able to stand together in front of our friends and family, vowing to love and cherish one another for the rest of our lives.













 

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